Lilly grants to boost school counseling efforts

HANCOCK COUNTY — One school’s counselors hope to find the best techniques to help students get ready for college and a future career.

Another district’s leaders want to train staff members to recognize the signs students might need help coping with stress or anxiety.

All four of Hancock County’s school districts recently received $30,000 counseling initiative planning grants from the Lilly Endowment,  an Indianapolis-based, private philanthropic foundation created in 1937 by three members of the Lilly family through gifts of pharmaceutical stock from their company, Eli Lilly & Co., that supports religion, education and community development. These planning grants aim to help school counselors research and strategize programs to better serve their students, said Judith Cebula, Lilly Endowment communications director.

As part of the program this year, the endowment awarded a total of $9.14 million in counseling planning grants to 284 public school corporations and charter schools.

The districts plan to apply for follow-up grant funding, a $100,000 implementation grant also provided through the Lilly Endowment.

Eastern Hancock School Corp. officials plan to put much of their $30,000 planning grant toward training for teachers and staff how to recognize signs of anxiety or depression in their students, said Eastern Hancock Middle School counselor Courtney Hott. The district’s three school counselors also will travel to a seminar at the University of San Diego to learn how to use data in school counseling, Hott said, and take trips to three Indiana schools considered model programs for social/emotional counseling.

In Hott’s experience, a student’s emotional health and academic progress go hand in hand.

“If we don’t have the mental health aspect of our students under control, it will be a lot harder to attain the educational success we want them to have,” Hott said. “We want them coping and in class; that way, they will be more college and career ready.”

With its $30,000 grant, Mt. Vernon Community School Corp. plans to purchase Naviance, a software program that allows students to match their interests and skill sets with prospective college and career matches, said Scott Shipley, Mt. Vernon Schools director of special programs.

The grant will help pay a subscription fee for each student’s use, as well as professional training for staff who will guide the students in using the software, Shipley said.

Editor’s note: this online article has been edited to reflect corrections to the printed article.

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Rorye Hatcher is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at ​317-477-3211 or